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A Call For a United Island of Ireland:

category national | history and heritage | opinion/analysis author Wednesday January 13, 2010 20:14author by Ruairí Ó Conghaile - The Temple of Danúauthor email rconnollytmp at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

The repressed history of Ireland and a call for unity

A brief look at Irelands lost history of genocide and slave trading. A call to re-engage the spirit of revolution that burns deep in the contemporary Irish psyche and use this common heritage to take serious consideration of once again uniting the Island of Ireland. Peace and unity within the borders of our own land.

THE TRIBULATIONS OF TIME:

As far back as history dares thread, Ireland has always been an Island which has suffered invasion from foreign forces. It is even spoken about in the Irish oral tradition, known historically as the mythological cycle, which describes Ireland as having been invaded six times prior to the coming of Christianity in the 4th century C.E. Indeed there has rarely been an Irish generation that hasn't felt the effects of an invading power in one form or another.

For 700 years the Irish were dominated and divided by the British. 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland, and the death, suffering and division caused by this plantation have left a permanent scar on our Island. Most recently the Island has been targeted in a more coercive, but no less damaging bureaucratic battle for sovereignty, handing over much power and control to an emerging European super state, much to the concern of the Irish population.

As a result of the unfortunate fact that history is written by the victors, much of the true history of Ireland has been buried and repressed. The devastating inflictions imposed upon this island over the centuries has shaped within the contemporary Irish psyche a certain sense of rebellion, a sense of defiance against all forms of control and oppression.

As we move into an age where world peace must truly be on the agenda, we need once again to find peace and unity within the borders of our own Island, and progress as a unified nation to lead the way in creating a world where human life will take priority over profits, and make war and division a repugnant memory.

It is this writers opinion that the Irish people need to be made aware of this repressed chapter in our history, in order to fully recognize the many mechanisms by which we have been kept divided, unorganised and in servitude to corrupt rulers and bureaucracies. Understanding our true history is the first step toward a truly United Island of Ireland.

THE IRISH SLAVE TRADE:

Very few Irish people today are aware of the history of slavery in our land. Indeed, when presented with the numbers I fear many would find the extent to which slavery has ravaged Irish society utterly shocking. It is recorded that well over one-half of white immigrants to the West Indies during the 17th century were Irish slaves, being shipped in by the British to build the colonies. This forms an integral part of Irelands lost history, and is crucial to one's understanding of the repressive forces that have been levied against the Irish people for centuries.

The earliest known case of Irish slavery dates back to 1612, where there were settlements of Irish slaves put to work in British settlements along the Amazon.

In 1625 James II, the English monarch, issued a proclamation that all Irish political prisoners were to be sold as slaves to English planters who were colonising the new world. When it became apparent that there were not enough political prisoners to meet the demand for slaves, the British began going after the local population. The slaves were primarily sent to South America and the Caribbean Islands to build the English colonies. Irish slaves were preferred to African slaves as they did not cost as much and were more easily obtained.

By 1636, Ireland was considered a prime source of supply for servants throughout the British colonies.

By 1637, on the Island of Montserrat in the Caribbean, the Irish heavily outnumbered the English colonists, and 69 percent of Montserrat's white inhabitants were Irish.

In 1641, Ireland's population was 1,466,000, but by 1652, in just over a decade it had dwindled to just 616,000.

From 1651 to 1660, between 80,000 to 130,000 Irish were transported by English slavers. It is worth noting, that these are only the figures that were recorded, while it is known that the English did not see it as necessary to record the transport of all Irish slaves. When viewed with the fact that very often Irish slaves were classified as being English, it becomes clear that the actual figure is much higher.

In 1656, English military leader Oliver Cromwell's Council of State voted that 1,000 Irish girls and 1,000 Irish young men be sent to Jamaica. Cromwell’s measures against Irish Catholics are widely considered to have been bordering on genocidal.

In June of 1657, the monarchy passed a law that attempted to cleanse the land of the Irish people stating:

"Those who fail to transplant themselves into Connaught or Clare within six Months... Shall be attained of high treason... Are to be sent into America or some other parts beyond the seas..." Those who return are to "suffer the pains of death as felons by virtue of this act, without benefit of Clergy"

Or as it has been more poetically put... 'To hell or to Connaught'. The province of Connaught was not desired by the English due to the poor quality of the land. Many lives were destroyed in this great upheaval.

The affects of these racist laws, the degradation and suffering caused by the slave trade, and the sudden but massive decline in Irish population would forever shape the Islands future, both socially and psychologically.

THE STARVATION:

The United Nations define the term "genocide" as "the systematic killing of, or a program of action intended to destroy a whole national or ethnic group..."

Blight to the Irish potato crop DID NOT cause the Irish famine and genocide 150 years ago. During 1846, Ireland exported enough wheat, barley, oats, oatmeal, pigs, eggs, and butter to feed its entire population. Many modern historians have noted outrage at this export, which was heavily guarded by British troops against starving crowds.

Ireland remained a net exporter of food throughout most of the five-year famine.

Throughout the entire Famine period, the British government would never allow for food aid to Ireland under the assumption that English landowners and private businesses would have been unfairly harmed by resulting food price fluctuations. Throughout this period the British Government also exported the vast majority of food produced in Ireland at gunpoint while allowing the Irish population to starve. This was seen as something of a solution to perceived problem of over population in Ireland at the time.

The British would succeed in exterminating over 2 million Irish. They did so by implementing these genocidal laws under the guise of Free Trade. So as not to interfere with the food market, Free trade decreed that no government surplus food -"no welfare"- be given to the starving.

"We do not propose," Prime Minister Lord John Russell told the House of Commons, "to interfere with the regular mode by which Indian corn and other kinds of grain may be brought into Ireland." Free trade insisted that the destitute work on the Public Works or in the workhouses, and that these hundreds of thousands should receive wages below the miserable levels prevailing, in order not to distort the labour market. This is at a time when 75% of the Irish population were feudal tenants for British landlords, effectively slaves. Thus labourers died in large quantities.

In 1845, The Irish population was officially 8.1 million. In the four years that would follow, 1.5 million Irish men women and children died of starvation and disease caused by a purposeful extermination being carried out by the British. One million Irish attempted to emigrate; of these, about 500,000 died--usually of typhus--in passage or in quarantine camps. Even today, the effects of this genocide can be seen with Irelands population still only reaching 6 million for the whole island, with most recent growth being attributed to the influx of migrants from eastern Europe.

Incredibly, large exports of foodstuffs from Ireland continued right through 1848 and 1849, which were the years in which the Irish population fell rapidly from 8 million to 6 million through death and emigration.

In November 1848, old dock records show exports of food from Cork in a single day to have been 147 bales of bacon, 255 barrels of pork, 5 casks of hams, 3,000 sacks and barrels of oats, 300 bags of flour, 300 head of cattle, 239 sheep, 542 boxes of eggs, 9,300 firkins [about one-fourth of a barrel] of butter, and 150 casks of miscellaneous foodstuffs. Again protected by heavily armed British soldiers.

Lord Clarendon, the British viceroy in Ireland during the famine wrote to Prime Minister Lord John Russell: "I don't think there is another legislature in Europe [other than the British] that would coldly persist in this policy of extermination."

Free trade laws imposed by the British left Irish farmers with few options when the potato crop failed. Farmers were forced to sell all their produce, at gunpoint, to pay rent to their British landlords. Landlords would bring harsh criminal charges against farmers failing to pay their rent. Irish were not legally able to fish or hunt under British law. Many Irish starved to death producing food to pay rent to their landlords.

Alternatives to this included work houses where one would have also very likely starve to death, and were subject to an incredibly meagre wage so as not to interfere in the Labour market.

Emigration, the only remaining option, only left a 50% chance of survival, and was only an option to people who could afford it.

To this day, no one has ever answered for the atrocities carried out against the Irish people during this dark period. It is one of the great scandals of history, and serves to remind us what imperialistic governments are capable of.

ALCOHOL, IRELANDS LIFE BLOOD:

Once known as the land of Saints and Scholars, we have been fooled into accepting alcohol as part of Irish 'culture'. It has been said that 'Alcohol is the life blood that flows through the veins of Ireland', it is hard to disagree when one views the extent to which alcohol affects Irish society.

A report published on Nov 01, 2007, shows that alcohol consumption in the Irish population has increased by 17% over the preceding 11 years, from 11.5 litres per adult in 1995 to 13.4 litres in 2006. This rise in consumption has led to increases in alcohol-related harm and disease, and has resulted in more than 1,775 deaths.

This in turn has come at great cost to the Irish health sector. The number of people discharged from hospital with alcohol-related problems or injuries increased by almost 90% in the ten years between 1995 and 2004, and have continued to climb since.

It is not by chance that we find such dramatic increases in alcohol consumption by the Irish public, for it has long been known that the drunkenness and lawlessness created by a society flush in alcohol was seen to lead to ruination and degradation of the working classes, and has long been used as a method of repressing the progress and unification of a people. It restrains the revolutionary spirit of the people, keeping them in a state of stupor. In fact, the Knights Templar built an innumerable amount of public houses and taverns for this very reason.

It is the opiate of the Irish masses and is detrimental Irelands future. There is hardly a family on the entire island that hasn't been affected by alcoholism one way or another. It serves to numb the aforementioned revolutionary spirit that burns deep at the core of the Irish psyche. It creates a distraction from circumstances, which may otherwise be very open to mass opposition.

The true cost of Alcohol abuse to Irish society has been immense, and it will take years to repair the damage.

A CALL FOR UNTIY:

This is a call for a United Island of Ireland. The purpose of the article is not to rouse hatred against others for past atrocities or modern oppression, but rather to show that the people of Ireland have a common and united history, history that is kept from us in a bid to keep us divided. The origins of our people truly are ancient. This island is the birthplace of the spiritual movement that would eventually find its way into Indian, Egyptian, Greek and Meso-American culture.

The ancient roots of Freemasonry, which has played a key role in shaping this world, grow deep from within Irelands hidden past (More on this in my upcoming book). The people of this island played a major role in shaping the ancient world.

It is now time to again to unite Ireland under one flag, and help to shape a new world.

-Ruairí Ó Conghaile

Related Link: http://www.thetempleofdanu.blogspot.com/
author by Fiachra O' Maolcraoibhepublication date Wed Jan 13, 2010 21:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I must say first of that I thoroughly enjoyed your article. I was enlightening in some ways yet lacking in others.

Your brief history of the British slave trade in Ireland was very interesting and I have searched the net and found this website which may help to understand the issue of slavery in Ireland a bit better.
http://www.scoilgaeilge.org/academics/slaves.htm

However you have missed something crucial. A thing which disturbs me completely. As you may know we live in an Island which is still partitioned as a result of the powerful unfluences you touched in your historical narrative on the British Empire's influence on Ireland. As a Northrner, I implore you to specify just how you plan to inspire the people of ireland to unite this troubled island.

Indeed you mention the 'rebellious psyche' of the Irish and the beacon of inspiration that Ireland had been to the rest of the world at one time or another. This is fair enough. Its alright talking of a need to unite but action is what is needed. For me personally, I have been surrounded by revolution and a ruing of missed chances. I have developed my own scorn for a free state which no longer wants us (if it ever did) and feel like an alien in my own capital (Dublin) and a stranger at home when faced with the ignorant who couldn't care less.

My thought is this; describe to me your plan and im sure we'll agree somewhere along the way. But right now I am much to cynical to be encouraged by your mere words.

author by Mike Novackpublication date Wed Jan 13, 2010 22:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"The earliest known case of Irish slavery dates back to 1612, where there were settlements of Irish slaves put to work in British settlements along the Amazon."

It's really odd that on one hand you refer to the "Book of Invasions" and on the other hand have no more sense of the history of slavery wit regard to Ireland than from after the British were on the scene. The history of slavery with regard to Ireland goes back before there were the people we now call "the British".

Perhaps odder that you place British settlements along the Amazon in the 17th Century (or in any other century for that matter). Got your rivers confused? During this time period the Brits did try to establish themselves near what is now the Panama-Columbia border (Darien) but that didn't work out too well. But that's a long, long way form the Amazon.

author by Ruairí Ó Conghaile - The Temple of Danúpublication date Thu Jan 14, 2010 08:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Re: Fiachra
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the article. Indeed you are correct, I don't put forth any suggestions on a plan of action, nor was that my intention. Volumes could be written on this matter, my aim with this article was to keep it short but informative, specifically with people new to this topic in mind. I agree with you however, action is what is needed. But effective action can only take place when the people truly comprehend our current position. We must first recognize, culturally, who we are. We need the people to desire unity, then we won't be able to prevent it. So for now.. in my opinion, we must aim to teach. A time for action will come, but we must sort out our own house first.

Re: Mike

There was a profusion of English, French and Dutch colonies in the Amazon area during this time. Though you are correct on one thing, there are a lot of suggestions that Irish slavery dates back further, perhaps it would have been more accurate of me to say the first official government records of Irish slavery date from 1612. Venetian court records also confirm the existence such settlements. As does an anonymous French journal on display in the British Museum, Father Figueiera’s book 'Relacao de algumas tocantes ao Maranhao e grao-para', and British records of the transfer of Irish political prisoners to this region at this time, there is little room for doubt.

Regardless.. why focus on this? I fear my point has been lost. What is your opinion on the history of Irish slavery, which is what the article was about after all? I'd be interested in hearing your point of view on what effect, if any, this has on modern Irish society?

Thanks for reading guys.

author by Fiachra O' Maolcraoibhepublication date Thu Jan 14, 2010 09:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

RE: Ruaírí

Perhaps your right...maybe I did overlook the crux of this article but surely you understand my position on the matter of unity. Growing up in a region under foreign sovereingty with the proclamation hanging on the wall is something of a poor joke to me. But yes your correct in saying that education is essential other wise we will always be in a revolutionary limbo. However you must also realise that there are those who would sooner have us under British rule once more. I refer of course to the D4 brigade of what some term as 'Brit loving (noun of preference)'. Here's an article I picked up on by Conn Corrigan a Irishman who is apparently so ashamed of this fact that he feels it is necessary to live in New York.
http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/articles/why_ir...ealth

The fact is that Ireland is in an awful state of affairs and the issue you have raised is a political one. Mainstream republicanism in the north is of the opinion that a united Isand of Ireland is much closer now than it was 30, 50, 100 years ago but with splinters in the ideology and a more than likely involvment of British spy rings in the north who are suspected of trying their harest to derail any devolution of power, it seems more unlikely by the day. The fact is, and any any run-of-the-mill dont-rock-the boat nationalist/unionist party will epitimise this state of mind, that most people are happy to be ignorant of anything which might affect their lives in the hope that it will some how blow away with the passing of time.

What I'm really trying to say without being to offensive and thus trying to maintain my respect for your view is that I believe this generalistic 'the people must know' approach is a bit naive. But indeed an interesting point nonetheless.

author by Ruairí Ó Conghaile - The Temple of Danúpublication date Thu Jan 14, 2010 19:28author email rconnollytmp at gmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the feed back. Its good to speak to someone who feels passionately on the matter. I understand your frustration. I just read this quote from Michael Collins that someone sent me, it sort of sums up my position on the matter:

"It was the national spirit which created the old government, and not the native government which created the national spirit.

But though it survived, the soul of the nation drooped and weakened. Without the protection of a native government we were exposed to the poison of foreign ways. The national character was infected and the life of the nation endangered. We had armed risings and political agitation. But we were not strong enough to put out the foreign Power until the national consciousness was fully re-awakened." -Michael Collins 1922

I couldn't agree more, until people understand the identity that we are fighting for, this will be a losing battle. All the guns in the world can't restore our national identity. The powers that be will be all too happy to see us bogged down in making this Irish vs English, North vs South, Catholic vs Protestant, Republican vs Unionist and so on. Irish people need to understand, in my opinion, that this is something which runs much deeper, right to the very core of who we are as a people. If this is truly grasped, the transition to a United Ireland will be impossible to stop.

Action will be wasted while the people remain willfully ignorant of who they are. This is my opinion anyway.

I appreciate your point of view though. I can understand how its hard to remain optimistic when you've been surrounded by this your whole life.

What do you think would be the best course of action toward a United Ireland??

author by pippublication date Thu Jan 14, 2010 22:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

whats the temple of danu???

author by Fiachra ó Maolcraoibhepublication date Fri Jan 15, 2010 14:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I understand what you mean. It's no well kept secret that this 'island' has lost its identity. Perhaps its gone down this road too far. But thats being pesimistic and pesimism is what the Irish do best (along with cynicism and wit). But alas we have become the victims of our own self-deprecation.

As for my plan. I try not to have plans because if history has taught us anything it is that plans never go to plan. 'the best laid plans of mice and men/oft go astray'. One example is WWI and our own easter rising. Perhaps political asassination would work in so much as achieving a platform for but in that case we'd have to assemble the wittiest of our island to do this dirty work. Alternatively, there could be another armed uprising but that would undo all that the last one achieved. International support? Whats the point? Does anyone really give a toss about 'bonnie Ireland'. And even if we did gain international support it would turn into a UN disaster! Politics is fine until we find ourselves in stalemate and where the voice of unionism ulitimately dominates. A holy war? You should read Ed Maloney's biography of Paisley. That'll give you a laugh. But as for catholic vs protestant, that conflict should never have happened and we know who to blame.

As you can see, there is no black and white. There's just the shades of grey in between. Irish indentity is something I believe in but I get hammered for it and this is why I'm so cynical on the topic.

author by Amadanpublication date Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is history as written in about 1900.

Slavery was a big factor in Gaelic Ireland - how did St Patrick first arrive here?

Alcohol is written up in many of the old annals, it is not a recent import.

author by Ruairi - The Temple of Danúpublication date Sun Jan 17, 2010 17:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks for the input Amadan!

I think you may have missed my points somewhat. With regards to Alcohol, I wasn't suggesting that it was a recent import, just that current level of abuse are quite high, and quite damaging to society, yet the vast majority of Irish people accept this abuse of alcohol as somehow being part of our culture. Take St. Patricks day for example.

With regards to your point on St Patrick himself, well St Patrick was a Welshman brought into slavery by Irish raiders, my article was intended to be brief look at the little known history of Irish slavery, and the enormous number of Irish who suffered as slaves and are not commemorated or remembered in any official way.

Related Link: http://thetempleofdanu.blogspot.com
author by A Freemanpublication date Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So many inaccuracies in this thread, where to start? First of all the originator of this thread states that Ireland was 'dominated by the British' for 700 years, that's nonsense. First of all there was no such thing as a british identity in 1170 when the first Norman intervention (invited by an Irishman called Diarmuid Macmurrough) took place. At the time these Norman invaders would hardly have regarded themselves as English let alone British. Any sort of British identity only emerged in these islands following the 1707 Act of Union of the English and Scottish crowns and parliaments in that year.

Secondly any harking back back to a mythical 'Isle of saints and scholars' is just wishful thinking. Ireland also had ancient traditions of clan warfare and slave raiding long before the evil English ever set foot in the place. Irish pirates regularly raided the west coast of Roman Britain for slaves and booty (as another poster said it's how St. Patrick got here in the first place!).

Thirdly, this country has a high proportion of partly-English genes even with it's indigenous population due to centuries of on-off settlement and intermarriage, look at the surnames of many people for instance - names like Smith, Cooper, Foster, Miller, Baxter and Webster regularly show up in parts of the country in supposedly completely ethnic Irish individuals, but none of these names are Irish, they're all English surnames. Also names like Lombard or Bromhead how the far flung origins of at least some of the genes of many Irish people, ideas of ethnic purity and identity are largely fictional. Perhaps in the West of Ireland one can find more ethnically 'pure' individuals, but surely only an extreme nationalist thinks that this makes those people better than the rest of us?

The English are a mongrel mix in terms of ethnic identity (romano-celtic, anglo-saxon and norman mix, not to mention later influxes of Scots, Hugenots, assimilated Jews and even Irish to the mix!) but so are we to a lesser degree and if you're called Foster, Smith or Miller, spare a moment to think of your English ancestors!

author by Ruairí - The Temple of Danúpublication date Mon Jan 18, 2010 16:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Re: Freeman

"Perhaps in the West of Ireland one can find more ethnically 'pure' individuals, but surely only an extreme nationalist thinks that this makes those people better than the rest of us?"

Did I give that impression??? That is definitely not my position nor my intention. That would be a ridiculous suggestion. I think you are trying to suggest that there are racist undertones in the article... No where in the article at all do I mention the mixing of nationalities or people of different ethnicities as being a negative thing as you have just said. Where did you come up with the idea of bringing up ethnic purity??? Thats madness.

Of course there are Irish people with English backgrounds, as well as many other places. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and people should be free to embrace their ethnic identity fully. We have a very diverse population at present, thankfully. I don't see how this has anything to do with Irelands lost history of slavery.

It is a fact that the history of the slave trade in Ireland goes largely unreported and forgotten. That St. Patrick himself was brought to Ireland as a slave does not negate the fact that thousands of Irish peoples lives were destroyed by slavery, should we just cast this aside because we are TOLD St. Patrick was a slave????

Also, the slave trade in Ireland was systematic and wide spread, sending Irish to all corners of the globe to work as slaves. There is absolutely no comparison with the relatively small numbers of people captured from Britain by a few unrecorded Irish outlaws. Its an absurd comparison.

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